Algerian Berbers rally for Amazigh recognition

Algerian Berbers rally for Amazigh recognition
2 min read
22 April, 2016
Protests have been held this week by Algerian Berbers to commemorate the 36th anniversary of the Berber Spring and to demand official recognition of the Amazigh language.
Wednesday marked the anniversary of the 1980 Berber uprising [Getty]
Algerian Berbers held a rally on Wednesday to pressure the government into recognising Amazigh.

A YouTube video showed protestors at the entrance of the University of Hasnaoua in the north central Algerian region of Tizi Ouzou.

Berbers have long camaigned for the government to put their language on an equal footing with Arabic, and protests for greater Berber rights have led to bloodshed in the past.

The president of the Rally for Culture and Democracy - with a largely Berber support base - said that Amazigh should get recognition in the country's constitution as a state language.

"We want the Amazigh language to become a real official language, and that it is recognised in the Algerian constitution as a state language, and it must also be incorporated in the article that defines the set of national parameters, which is not the case today," Africa News reported.

Amazigh was first recognised as a national language in 2002. Two months ago state legislatures passed a package of reforms which included giving Amazigh official status, but keeping Arabic as the language of government.

Wednesday also marked the anniversary of a 1980 Berber uprising referred to as the "Berber Spring", when strikes led to clashes with police leading to a number of dead.

The uprising was triggered when Arab nationalist banned the Berber writer Mouloud Mammeri from giving a lecture in the province of Tizi Ouzou.

Algeria's Berber community is sizeable. Over a quarter of Algeria's 38 million population identify as Berber, and the memories of this uprising are still fresh in the memories of the minority.